September 12, 2017
ACA Continues to Increase Health Coverage, Yet Other States Leap Ahead of Virginia
The number and share of Virginians with health insurance continued to increase in Virginia in 2016, according to data released today by the Census Bureau. These and other significant improvements in health coverage in Virginia and the United States since 2013 show that the Affordable Care Act is working and should not be repealed.
However, because state policymakers have so far refused to expand health coverage through Medicaid expansion, Virginia’s share of residents with health insurance is no longer ahead of the national rate.
The share of Virginians without health insurance dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 (about 1 in 12 people) from 12.3 percent in 2013 (about 1 in 8 people). Meanwhile, the national rate dropped to 8.6 percent in 2016 from 14.5 in 2013. In states that have used federal dollars to provide health coverage to low-income adults through Medicaid expansion, the rate of improvement has been particularly strong. The share of the population without insurance has dropped to 6.4 percent on average across those states that expanded Medicaid, while the average share of the population without insurance is 10.2 percent in states that have refused to expand Medicaid.
Hundreds of thousands of Virginians are losing out by Virginia’s choice to be among the laggard states.
Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has benefitted a broad range of Americans. It has provided insurance to those who have traditionally been more likely to lack coverage, such as people of color, young adults, part-time workers, people with less education, and low-income parents. It does all of this at the same time that it’s producing better health outcomes, saving some states money, and facilitating innovations in health care.
Medicaid expansion also helps states reduce health coverage differences by race, ethnicity, and income. And in expansion states, such as Virginia’s neighboring states of West Virginia and Kentucky, it is helping to stem the disturbing tide of substance abuse and death among less-educated whites that recent research has documented. It’s time for Virginia to expand Medicaid so that our people can get the care they need to go to work, take care of their kids, and be healthy, productive members of their community.